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A Guide To Pisa, Italy—including That Leaning Tower


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Mina Kean



Welcome to Pisa, the charming city located in the Tuscany region of Italy. Famous for its iconic leaning tower, Pisa offers visitors a delightful mix of history, culture, and breathtaking architecture.


With its origins dating back to ancient times, Pisa has a rich and fascinating history that stretches over centuries. This can be seen in its diverse architectural styles, from Romanesque to Gothic, Renaissance to Baroque. As you wander through the narrow streets and squares, you’ll be transported back in time, mesmerized by the beauty that surrounds you.


The undeniable highlight of Pisa is the Leaning Tower, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a global icon. Its distinctive tilt has intrigued visitors for generations, drawing millions of people from all over the world to marvel at its unique design and engineering feat. But Pisa has so much more to offer than just the leaning tower.


Immerse yourself in the history of Pisa by exploring its many other architectural treasures, such as the Pisa Cathedral and Baptistery. Admire the intricate details of these magnificent structures and learn about the city’s religious and cultural significance.


But Pisa isn’t all about history and architecture. The city also offers a vibrant cultural scene, with numerous museums and galleries that showcase art and artifacts from various periods. From the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which houses sculptures and artworks from the cathedral, to the Museo Nazionale di San Matteo, which exhibits medieval and Renaissance art, there is something to captivate every art enthusiast.


And let’s not forget about the culinary delights that await you in Pisa. Indulge your taste buds with traditional Tuscan cuisine, known for its simple yet flavorful dishes. From the world-famous Tuscan bread to delectable pastas, fresh seafood, and local wines, Pisa is a gastronomic paradise.


After satisfying your appetite, take some time to explore Pisa’s charming streets lined with boutiques, artisan shops, and bustling markets. Whether you’re in search of fashion, souvenirs, or local handicrafts, you’ll find plenty of options to indulge in some retail therapy.


With its unique blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and shopping, Pisa promises an unforgettable experience for every visitor. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an enchanting journey through this remarkable city.


History of Pisa

The history of Pisa dates back to ancient times, with evidence of settlements in the area as early as the 5th century BC. Originally a Roman colony, Pisa flourished as a maritime power during the Middle Ages, expanding its influence along the Mediterranean Sea.


During the 11th and 12th centuries, Pisa experienced its golden age. The city established itself as a major trading hub and a powerful naval force, dominating the seas with its fleet of ships. This prosperity allowed Pisa to construct magnificent structures, showcasing its wealth and architectural prowess.


One of the most famous and striking examples of Pisa’s architectural achievements is the Leaning Tower, also known as the Torre Pendente. Construction on the tower began in 1173 and was intended to be a bell tower for the adjacent Pisa Cathedral. However, due to its unstable foundation, the tower began to lean during construction, leading to its iconic tilt.


Throughout the centuries, Pisa faced both periods of glory and challenges. The city went through a decline in the 14th century due to a series of military defeats and the silting up of its harbor. It was also affected by the Black Death pandemic, which significantly diminished its population.


In the following centuries, Pisa became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany under the Medici family and later the Kingdom of Italy. Despite its turbulent history, the city managed to preserve its architectural treasures, with many structures, including the Leaning Tower, undergoing restoration and preservation efforts.


Today, Pisa attracts millions of visitors from around the world who come to marvel at its architectural wonders and immerse themselves in its rich history. The city’s historic center, with its unique collection of Romanesque and Gothic buildings, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, which further highlights the significance of Pisa’s cultural heritage.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an architecture lover, or simply curious about the past, Pisa invites you to step back in time and uncover its fascinating history. Explore the cobblestone streets, admire the magnificent buildings, and discover the stories that have shaped this captivating city.


Getting to Pisa

Getting to Pisa is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Whether you’re traveling by air, train, or car, there are several options to choose from.


If you’re coming from abroad, the most convenient way to reach Pisa is by flying into the Pisa International Airport, also known as Galileo Galilei Airport. It is one of the busiest airports in Italy and is served by many international and domestic airlines. From the airport, you can take a bus, taxi, or train to the city center, which is located just a few kilometers away.


If you prefer to travel by train, Pisa has excellent rail connections with major cities in Italy and Europe. The Pisa Centrale train station is the main railway hub, offering frequent services to Florence, Rome, Milan, and other destinations. High-speed trains, such as the Frecciarossa and Italo, make it convenient to travel to Pisa from various parts of Italy.


For those driving to Pisa, the city is well-connected to the Italian highway network. The A11 and A12 highways both pass through Pisa, making it easily accessible by car. However, it’s worth noting that parking can be limited in the city center, so it’s advisable to check with your accommodation for parking facilities or use one of the public parking areas on the outskirts of the city.


Once you’ve arrived in Pisa, getting around the city is relatively straightforward. The historic center is compact and best explored on foot. Walking allows you to fully immerse yourself in the charm of the city and discover its hidden gems.


If you prefer a faster mode of transportation, you can also rent a bicycle or scooter to navigate the city’s streets. Pisa has a well-developed cycling infrastructure, and many rental shops are available, allowing you to easily explore the city at your own pace.


If you need to travel to specific locations in Pisa or visit nearby attractions, the city has an efficient public transportation system. Buses operate throughout the city, connecting various neighborhoods and important landmarks. Tickets can be purchased at authorized vendors or onboard the bus.


Getting to Pisa is just the beginning of your adventure in this captivating city. So, whether you choose to fly, take the train, or drive, get ready to be enchanted by the beauty and history that awaits you in Pisa.


Exploring the Leaning Tower of Pisa

No visit to Pisa is complete without exploring its most iconic landmark, the Leaning Tower. Located in the famous Piazza dei Miracoli (Square of Miracles), this architectural marvel attracts millions of visitors from around the world.


The Leaning Tower of Pisa, also known as the Torre Pendente, is a bell tower that was intended to be vertical but acquired its signature tilt during construction. Despite its lean, the tower has stood the test of time and continues to captivate visitors with its unique design.


As you approach the tower, you’ll immediately notice its striking lean, which is caused by the uneven settle of the ground beneath it. It’s truly a sight to behold and makes for fantastic photo opportunities.


To climb to the top of the tower, you’ll need to purchase a ticket. It’s highly recommended to book your tickets in advance, as only a limited number of people are allowed to ascend the tower at a time. The climb may be a bit challenging, as the stairs are narrow and spiral, but the reward is well worth it.


As you ascend the tower, you’ll feel the lean more prominently, creating a unique and slightly surreal experience. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Pisa and the surrounding countryside. It’s a breathtaking sight that will leave you in awe.


Inside the tower, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about its history and the efforts made to stabilize and preserve it. Interactive exhibits and displays provide fascinating insights into the tower’s construction, engineering challenges, and ongoing maintenance.


Aside from the tower itself, the Piazza dei Miracoli is home to other remarkable structures that should not be missed. The Pisa Cathedral, with its ornate facade and stunning interior, is a masterful example of Romanesque architecture. The Baptistery, a circular building with beautiful arched galleries, is another must-visit attraction in the square.


While exploring the Leaning Tower and the surrounding area, take your time to soak up the atmosphere of this historic place. Admire the intricate details of the architecture, marvel at the impressive craftsmanship, and imagine the stories that these structures hold.


Visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a truly unique experience that allows you to witness a testament to human ingenuity and perseverance. So be sure to include this world-famous landmark on your itinerary and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Other attractions in Pisa

While the Leaning Tower of Pisa may be the city’s most famous attraction, there is so much more to see and do in this enchanting city. Here are some of the other must-visit attractions in Pisa:


Pisa Cathedral: Located in the Piazza dei Miracoli, the Pisa Cathedral, also known as the Duomo di Pisa, is a stunning masterpiece of Romanesque architecture. Its intricate facade, adorned with marble columns and sculptures, is a sight to behold. Step inside to admire the ornate interior, with its beautiful frescoes and intricate mosaics.


Baptistery: Adjacent to the cathedral, the Baptistery is a circular building with a magnificent dome and striking arched galleries. Explore its interior and take in the acoustics by standing in the center and experiencing the echo effect that makes it famous.


Palazzo della Carovana: This impressive palace is part of the renowned University of Pisa and features a stunning facade adorned with intricate sculptures and reliefs. Take a stroll through the courtyard and admire the grandeur of this architectural gem.


Church of Santa Maria della Spina: Situated on the banks of the Arno River, this small Gothic church is a hidden gem in Pisa. Admire its intricate spires and delicate decorations, and learn about the legend behind its name.


Palazzo Blu: If you’re an art lover, a visit to Palazzo Blu is a must. This historic building hosts a range of rotating art exhibitions, showcasing works by renowned artists from around the world. Immerse yourself in the world of art and culture as you explore the galleries of this unique venue.


Church of San Michele in Borgo: This Romanesque church is located in the charming Borgo Stretto neighborhood. Step inside to admire its beautiful interior, adorned with stunning frescoes and intricate sculptures.


Botanical Gardens: Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in the peaceful surroundings of the Pisa Botanical Gardens. This green oasis offers a variety of plant species, including exotic plants, flowers, and trees, making it a perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.


These are just a few of the many attractions that Pisa has to offer. So, while you’re visiting the Leaning Tower, make sure to explore the rich history, art, and culture that permeate every corner of this remarkable city.


Museums in Pisa

Pisa is not only famous for its architectural wonders, but also for its impressive collection of museums that showcase the city’s rich history, art, and culture. Whether you’re a history buff, an art enthusiast, or simply curious about the past, Pisa’s museums offer a wealth of fascinating exhibits and artifacts. Here are some of the must-visit museums in Pisa:


Museo dell’Opera del Duomo: Located near the Leaning Tower, this museum houses a superb collection of sculptures and artworks that were originally part of the Pisa Cathedral and its Baptistery. Admire masterpieces by renowned artists like Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano, and learn about the history and significance of these iconic structures.


Museo Nazionale di San Matteo: Housed in a former Benedictine convent, this museum is home to a remarkable collection of medieval and Renaissance art. Admire exquisite paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts, including works by famous artists like Simone Martini and Andrea Pisano.


Pisa Charterhouse: Located just outside the city center, the Pisa Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery that now houses the National Museum of San Rossore. Explore the impressive collection of medieval and Renaissance art, including paintings, sculptures, and religious artifacts.


Museum of Ancient Ships: Situated near the Arno River, this unique museum showcases ancient Roman ships that were discovered during excavations. Marvel at the superb preservation of these vessels and learn about their historical significance in the maritime history of Pisa.


Pisa Arsenal Museum: Discover the naval history of Pisa at the Arsenal Museum, which is located in the historic Medici Arsenal building. Explore the displays of ancient weapons, shipbuilding tools, and maritime artifacts, and gain insights into the city’s maritime history and naval power.


Museum of Graphics of Palazzo Lanfranchi: Art lovers will appreciate this museum’s impressive collection of prints and graphic artworks. With works spanning from the Middle Ages to the contemporary era, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of the evolution of printmaking techniques and the art of reproducing images.


These are just a few examples of the diverse range of museums that Pisa has to offer. Whichever museum you choose to visit, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into Pisa’s past and gain a deeper understanding of its cultural heritage. So make sure to include a visit to one or more of these museums in your itinerary for a truly enriching experience.


Dining and Cuisine in Pisa

Pisa is not just a city of architectural wonders; it’s also a paradise for food lovers. The city’s culinary scene offers a delightful array of traditional Tuscan dishes that will tantalize your taste buds and leave you craving for more. Here are some highlights of the dining and cuisine in Pisa:


Tuscan Cuisine: The cuisine of Pisa, like the rest of Tuscany, is known for its simplicity and emphasis on high-quality ingredients. Tuscan cuisine features hearty dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, such as fresh vegetables, flavorful olive oil, succulent meats, and aromatic herbs. Taste traditional Tuscan recipes, like the famous “panzanella” salad made with stale bread and tomatoes, or “ribollita,” a comforting vegetable and bread soup.


Seafood Delicacies: With its proximity to the coast, Pisa offers an abundance of fresh seafood dishes. Indulge in a plate of “cacciucco,” a rich fish stew packed with a variety of seafood, or savor the flavors of grilled or fried fish, such as “fritto misto di mare” or “pesce alla livornese.” Pair your seafood meal with a glass of local white wine for the perfect coastal dining experience.


Pisa’s Baked Goods: No visit to Pisa is complete without trying some of the city’s mouthwatering baked goods. Sample “schiacciata,” a savory flatbread topped with olive oil and coarse salt, or “torta coi bischeri,” a delicious almond and pine nut tart. And don’t forget to indulge in “biscotti di Prato,” crunchy almond biscuits that pair perfectly with a cup of espresso.


Wine Tasting: Pisa is located in the heart of Tuscany, renowned for its excellent wines. Take advantage of your visit to indulge in a wine tasting experience. Visit local wineries and vineyards to sample a variety of Tuscan wines, such as Chianti, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, or Brunello di Montalcino. Learn about the winemaking process and enjoy the picturesque scenery of the Tuscan countryside.


Local Food Markets: Immerse yourself in the local food culture by visiting Pisa’s vibrant food markets. Explore the Mercato delle Vettovaglie, where you can find a plethora of fresh produce, local cheeses, cured meats, and artisanal products. Engage with local vendors, sample their products, and discover the flavors of Pisa’s regional specialties.


Pisa offers a wealth of culinary delights that will satisfy every palate. Whether you’re a fan of traditional Tuscan cuisine, seafood delicacies, or exploring local food markets, the diverse gastronomic scene of Pisa will leave you with unforgettable dining experiences. So be sure to indulge in the local flavors and savor the tastes of this remarkable city.


Shopping in Pisa

When it comes to shopping, Pisa has something for everyone. From upscale boutiques to traditional artisan shops, the city offers a variety of options for those looking to indulge in a retail therapy experience. Here’s a glimpse into the shopping scene in Pisa:


Corso Italia: Considered the main shopping street in Pisa, Corso Italia is a bustling thoroughfare lined with fashion boutiques, upscale shops, and international brands. Stroll along this elegant street and discover the latest fashion trends, designer labels, and stylish accessories.


Borgo Stretto: Located in the heart of the historic center, Borgo Stretto is a charming street adorned with boutique shops, cafes, and historic buildings. Get lost in its narrow alleys and explore the local shops, where you can find unique clothing items, handmade jewelry, and artisanal products.


Open-air Markets: Pisa is known for its lively open-air markets, where you can find a variety of goods, from fresh produce to clothing and household items. Visit the Mercato delle Vettovaglie to experience a traditional food market, where you can buy local cheeses, cured meats, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t miss the weekly market at Piazza dei Cavalieri, offering a mix of clothing, accessories, and household items.


Local Artisan Shops: Pisa is home to many talented artisans who create unique handmade products. Visit artisan shops to find one-of-a-kind items, such as pottery, leather goods, jewelry, and inspired artworks. Take home a piece of Pisa’s craftsmanship and support local artisans who keep traditional techniques alive.


Pisan Souvenirs: No trip is complete without grabbing some souvenirs to remember your visit to Pisa. Look for miniature replicas of the Leaning Tower, keychains, magnets, and other trinkets that you can find in souvenir shops throughout the city. Be sure to choose authentic souvenirs that represent the spirit and culture of Pisa.


Bookstores: If you’re a book lover, Pisa has several bookstores where you can browse through a selection of books in both Italian and English. Explore independent bookshops and discover new reads, travel guides, and books on art, history, and culture.


Whether you’re in search of high-end fashion, unique handmade crafts, or unforgettable souvenirs, Pisa has a shopping experience to suit every taste. Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of the shopping streets, explore local markets, and bring home a piece of Pisa to cherish.


Accommodation options in Pisa

Pisa offers a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels, charming bed and breakfasts, or budget-friendly hostels, the city has something to accommodate your needs. Here are some of the accommodation options in Pisa:


Luxury Hotels: Pisa boasts several luxury hotels that provide top-notch amenities and impeccable service. These hotels are often located in historic buildings or picturesque settings, offering stunning views of the city or the surrounding countryside. Enjoy spacious rooms, fine dining restaurants, spa facilities, and personalized attention during your stay.


Boutique Hotels: For those seeking a more intimate and unique experience, boutique hotels in Pisa are the perfect choice. These hotels often combine modern comforts with traditional charm and are characterized by their personalized service and attention to detail. Many boutique hotels are located in historic buildings, providing a sense of authenticity and a truly memorable stay.


Bed and Breakfasts: Pisa is home to a range of charming bed and breakfasts, offering cozy accommodations and a homely atmosphere. Stay in family-run establishments and enjoy a warm welcome, comfortable rooms, and a delicious breakfast to start your day. Bed and breakfasts often provide a more personal touch, with hosts who can offer insider tips and suggestions for exploring the city.


Guesthouses: Guesthouses in Pisa provide affordable yet comfortable accommodations. These establishments offer private rooms with shared facilities, allowing travelers to enjoy a more budget-friendly stay without sacrificing comfort. Guesthouses are an excellent option for those looking for a simple and cozy place to rest after a day of sightseeing.


Hostels: Pisa has a number of hostels that cater to budget-conscious travelers and backpackers. Hostels provide dormitory-style accommodations with shared facilities, making them an affordable option for solo travelers or groups. Many hostels also offer communal spaces, kitchens, and organized activities, providing opportunities to meet fellow travelers.


Apartment Rentals: If you prefer a more independent stay, Pisa offers a range of apartment rentals. These self-catering accommodations give you the freedom to have your own space and prepare your meals. Renting an apartment is ideal for families, groups, or those planning an extended stay in the city.


When choosing accommodation in Pisa, consider factors such as location, amenities, and budget. The city center is a popular area to stay, as it provides easy access to major attractions and a vibrant atmosphere. However, there are also options available in quieter residential areas if you prefer a more peaceful stay.


No matter your accommodation choice, Pisa’s warm hospitality and charm will make your stay a memorable one. Plan ahead, book early, and enjoy your time in this captivating city.


Practical information for visiting Pisa

Before your trip to Pisa, it’s helpful to have some practical information to ensure a smooth and enjoyable visit. From transportation to safety tips, here are some key things to keep in mind:


Getting Around: Pisa’s historic center is best explored on foot, as most attractions are within walking distance of each other. However, if you need to travel to specific locations or venture outside the city center, Pisa has a reliable public transportation system. Buses operate throughout the city, and tickets can be purchased at authorized vendors or onboard the bus.


Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Pisa is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant and the city is less crowded. Avoid the peak summer months when temperatures can be high, and tourist crowds are at their peak.


Entry Requirements: Make sure to check the entry requirements for Italy before your visit. Depending on your nationality, you may need a visa. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.


Currency and Payments: The currency in Italy is the Euro (€). Ensure that you have enough cash on hand for small purchases and places that may not accept cards. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted in hotels, restaurants, and larger stores, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for smaller establishments and street markets.


Safety: Pisa is generally a safe city, but it’s always wise to take precautions. Keep an eye on your belongings, especially in crowded tourist areas, and be aware of your surroundings. It’s also advisable to have a copy of your important documents, such as your passport and travel insurance, stored in a safe place.


Local Customs: Familiarize yourself with local customs and etiquette to ensure a respectful visit. Italians value politeness and manners, so saying “please” (per favore) and “thank you” (grazie) goes a long way. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, covering shoulders and knees.


Language: The official language in Pisa is Italian. While English is widely spoken in tourist areas, it’s always helpful to learn a few basic Italian phrases or carry a phrasebook to enhance communication and show respect for the local culture.


Emergency Numbers: In case of an emergency, dial 112 for general emergencies or 113 for police assistance in Italy. Make sure to have these numbers readily accessible along with the address and phone number of your accommodation.


Tourist Information: Visit the local tourist information center, conveniently located in the city center, for maps, brochures, and guidance on the best places to visit. They can also provide information on guided tours, events, and any current promotions.


By keeping these practical tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to Pisa. Embrace the rich history, culinary delights, and architectural wonders of this captivating city and create lasting memories of your time in Pisa.



Pisa, with its iconic Leaning Tower and rich cultural heritage, offers a captivating experience for visitors from around the world. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be enchanted by the city’s historic charm, breathtaking architecture, and warm hospitality.


Exploring the Leaning Tower is a must-do, immersing yourself in its fascinating history and admiring the panoramic views from the top. But Pisa has much more to offer beyond its famous landmark. Walk the ancient streets, visit the stunning cathedral and baptistery, and discover hidden gems such as the Pisa Charterhouse and the Church of Santa Maria della Spina.


Immerse yourself in Pisa’s vibrant cultural scene by visiting its impressive museums, where you can admire art and artifacts spanning centuries. Indulge in traditional Tuscan cuisine, savor the flavors of fresh seafood, and explore the local food markets to get a taste of authentic Pisan flavors.


Take time to stroll through the streets of Pisa, where you’ll find boutique shops, artisanal crafts, and bustling markets. And when it’s time to rest, choose from a range of accommodations catering to every budget, from luxury hotels to charming bed and breakfasts.


Remember to plan your visit in advance, take note of practical information such as transportation options and safety tips, and respect local customs and etiquette. By doing so, you’ll maximize your enjoyment and make the most of your time in this marvelous city.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, a foodie, or simply seeking an enchanting getaway, Pisa offers a truly memorable experience. So pack your bags, immerse yourself in the beauty and culture of this remarkable city, and create memories that will last a lifetime.